The ban imposed by the European Union (EU) on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight operations is expected to be lifted soon, local media reported quoting the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official.

The ban had been imposed following the crash of a PIA aircraft in May last year, which resulted in the deaths of 97 passengers and crew.

An International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) audit team that had visited to undertake a safety audit of the aviation authority completed the process on December 10. Its final report will be released in a few weeks and shared publicly, The News reported.

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According to The News, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had extended travel restrictions imposed on PIA in April for an indefinite period and directed the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) to get its safety audit done by ICAO scheduled in July.

In its January 4 letter to DG CAA Khaqan Murtaza, ICAO’s Deputy Director Denis Guindon wrote that the committee conducted the audit in December 2021 and “determined that the actions taken by Pakistan had successfully resolved SSC (Significant Safety Concern).”

“I wish to refer to the Significant Safety Concern (SSC/PEL-01/09-2020/PAK refers) that was issued to Pakistan on September 18, 2020, as well as the Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) audit that was conducted by an ICAO team in Pakistan from 29 November to 10 December 2021.”

He further said that until the CAA received the approval, PIA would not be able to resume flight operations to the EU.

“In accordance with the USOAP SSC process, […] the ICAO SSC Validation Committee reviewed the actions and relevant evidence validated in Pakistan. The Committee determined that the actions taken by Pakistan had successfully resolved SSC,” the letter stated.